I started experimenting with opiates when I was a teenager and as I grew to rely on the emotional relief I got from them I formed a bond with this chemical. Before long it was costing me too much money so I switched to heroin. After almost five year into this downward cycle I was desperate to get off. I even tried to use suboxone and booze to stay away from the heroin but I was relapsing once a week. I didn’t have the mental capacity to reach out for help as I would today. I didn’t really know what I needed to know so I was ready to kill myself. I was victimizing myself plus I had a lot of self pity which put me into a sick place Over years of use I had developed a better relationship with heroin than I had with myself. Without heroin I didn’t have the skill set or the self esteem to deal with life. I used heroin to cover up my feelings- who’d have thought!
During my use I was lying to myself. I told myself you can’t get through this without dope, you just can’t do it. I lied to myself so I could keep using. I don’t know how this happened but there was a time in my life that I didn’t think about my thinking. I was only thinking about how I could get more heroin. Now that is no longer my motivation I have worked on improving the quality of my thinking and I am less selfish and more considerate towards others..
For me the withdrawal process was really challenging, I don’t know how to explain it but I really did want to die. I wanted to die because I was in this place of constant physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain and I had no idea that I was going though it for months. I would pick up and then go without it for a few days. It was terrible because I was torturing myself and torturing my family.
Then one day I was arrested and I was forced into treatment. I can remember my first day of in-patient treatment program and being asked,” do you really want to get clean?” I spoke to the truth, part of me was ready and part of me was not. I was really unsure in so many ways about giving my life over to a group of women in recovery who knew how to live a sober life.
Letting go of heroin was a grieving process for me. It was very saddening in a lot of ways. I feel like a baby saying this but I was grieving the loss of heroin. But I was in an all women’s treatment facility and I WAS REALLY DESPERATE! Somehow I realized that I was done with my heroin habit for good and I put my full trust in this recovery program, trust for a heroin user is a big deal. I had such tunnel vision and had little perspective but with some clean time I was open to listening to others and participating in group sessions. I am the kind of a person who can learn from other people and their experiences even though I wasn’t able to identify emotionally at first. I wanted to cry over things people were telling me about their lives but I couldn’t. It wasn’t part of my nature at that time but I still was open to changing my values.
I am still learning how to manage stress over feelings. I couldn’t even cry. Now when things come up or I am stressed I realize that I am not my thoughts. I go with the flow and make adjustments. I know I am onto something because this is also what I hear from people who have decades of sobriety and I have learned to lean into things. I’ve learned so many skills from the others in my group that I can use in my everyday life. Now there is hope. When I was using I really didn’t enjoy living and now I like being alive and I like my life. Before I didn’t know that I was carrying around those feelings. I couldn’t recognize that I didn’t like living, that’s how much I was out of touch with my emotions. Today I am glad to be alive but my happiness depends on my sobriety because there are no guarantees in life.
After the treatment program I am more emotionally mature. Maybe I would never have gotten to this better place without all the trouble I put myself and my family through. Through my narrow perspective I saw my life as horrible but in sobriety I’ve realized that I was a selfish person, a horrible daughter, and a horrible sister. When I was using I didn’t think about that but in sobriety I can see it for what it was and I can do something about it. My past failures don’t define who I am now. I couldn’t have foreseen all the growth and good things that were ahead of me. It is my story, it is my narrative. I am alive today and living a different life. People get ready to change at different times and for different reasons but sometimes they wait too long and miss their opportunity by dying or ending up in prison.
Today I am alive and can value so much of the goodness in the world and I am not limiting myself to an obsession with drugs. This has opened up a lot of space in my life allowing me to reconnect with my family, it has opened my life to authentic friendships and made me more intellectually curious which has propelled me on a very satisfying educational journey. I am no longer limited to satisfying a drug habit. I feel limitless and I am out of my cage.